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Illegear RE-15 (aka Clevo W350STQ)

A couple of years ago I bought (at that time) a laptop powerhouse. Apple had just introduced its Retina Macbook Pro and started phasing out its easily modded predecessor.

That time I waws using an Apple MacBook Pro Mid 2012 and I’ve had it modded multiple times: increased memory to 8GB, replaced the HDD with an SSD, and replaced the SuperDrive with 1TB HDD. I was planning on purchasing the next generation MacBook Pro but when I heard that it won’t be as moddable, I decided to look somewhere else.

One of my colleagues mentioned a brand new shop called Illegear that were reselling and customizing Clevo laptops. I looked through their products list and bought the cheapest of their higher end models: the RE-15.

full shot it looks so much bigger, but it’s actually almost the same dimensions as my 15” MacBook Pro

Here was the full order details:

  • New ILLEGEAR RE-15 Select Your Laptop Color: Mercedes-Benz Metallic Premium Silver with Automotive Clear Coat
  • Display: 15.6” Full HD LED-Backlit Matte Display featuring 95% NTSC Color Gamut (1920 x 1080)
  • Processor: Intel® Core™ i7-4700MQ (6MB L3 Cache, 2.40GHz)
  • Graphics Card: Nvidia GeForce GTX 765M 2GB GDDR5
  • Thermal Compound: Stock Standard Thermal Compound - CPU & GPU
  • RAM: 24GB DDR3 RAM 1600MHz - 3 X 8GB
  • RAID Options: Non-RAID
  • Primary Drive: None (I will install my own storage drive)
  • Secondary Drive: None
  • Primary mSATA Solid State Drive: None
  • Optical Drive Bay: DVD-R/RW DL Combo Optical Drive
  • Wireless Network Card: Realtek RTL8723AE - WLAN & Bluetooth 4.0 Combo
  • Operating System: None
  • Warranty: ILLEGEAR 1 Year Limited Warranty with Onsite Pickup and Support (Malaysia & Singapore)
  • RM4,197

That time they were giving the Automotive Clear Coat for free, but it adds almost a week to the delivery time. I was impatient so I opted for a plain chassis. I have also since modded the machine which I will talk about in a bit.

This laptop has been reviewed a number of times in the past (here’s my favorite) so I won’t cover it anymore. What I will write about would be the interesting stuff I’ve done and discovered with this machine.

For example, here’s a tip: always get the display planel with the highest color gamut available. I chose the 95% NTSC panel because I wanted to know the difference (I had been using a TN LCD monitor at this point) and I remember being amazed at the difference. Splurging on the display is worth it.

Here’s another one: always get a keyboard with a backlight. This one doesn’t and it’s really difficult to use when it’s dark. Aside from the backlight the touchpad is too much to the center instead of under the spacebar; the palm rejection isn’t so good and a brush by my right palm would often move the cursor somewhere else. Disabling tap to click makes the issue a bit more bearable.s

keyboard the touchpad may look like a single button but you can actually do a right click on it

I’ve added in a few things through the years and I don’t really know how much they cost now. One great thing about the Clevos is that they are almost just like desktops – it’s really easy to mod them. For example, I just recently replaced the thermal compound with some arctic silver (you can see the CPU and the GPU copper heatsinks).

I’ve also replaced the DVD drive with a HDD caddy. Now I have 256GB SSD, 1TB Hybrid, and 1TB 7200rpm HDD. That’s a lot of storage that I don’t know if I will fully use, but am happy to know it’s there :)

disassembled all you need to open up the chassis is a phillips screwdriver; there are only three screws for the bottom cover and one screw for the upper drive cover

The chassis is plastic but quite tough. I’ve dropped this a number of times from a height of two feet (that’s what happens when you fall asleep while working on your laptop) and it’s still chugging along. I had to remove a fewstray bits of plastic from inside the laptop though, and until now there are still some rattling noises when I invert the laptop.

right corner right side corner has seen better days

left corner left side corner is even worse; I can’t close that gap :(

It’s still quite a usable machine and I’ve installed Ubuntu Gnome on it, although currently I’m trying out how to hackintosh this Clevo. I’m planning to do some iOS progamming and even though I do have a MacBook Pro that’s powerful enough to handle XCode, I think this laptop would be even faster. Plus, with all the advances in SSD technology, I can just easily replace the SSD with a faster one and still eke out a few more years from it.

left side left side, showing a kensington lock, USB2, optical, mic, and headphone jacks, and the HDD caddy containing a 1TB HDD

lid the lid – I’ve collected a number of stickers and affixed them on the laptop, and showing a VGA port and the power port

right side right side, showing an SD card reader, two USB3 ports, an eSATA/USB3 combo port, an HDMI port, and an ethernet port

I’ve taken this laptop to many a hackathon, and it’s delivered. This is definitely one of my best-valued laptop purchase, and if I ever need to upgrade to a new mobile workstation, I’m getting another Clevo from Illegear.

glamour shot glamour shot while upgrading to Ubuntu Gnome 16.04

User’s Manual